Introduction / History
A warm and hospitable people, the Wasulu of West Africa claim to originate from the Futa Jalon (Fulani) of Guinea. They tell various stories of their past. One oral account says that the Wasulu once lived among the Malinke, but in time were told to leave because of their pride and boastfulness about their many possessions. Though the historical accounts of the group's origin and of how they lost their original language vary, their language is Malinke (Maninkakan) in Guinea and Mali, with a heavy Bambara (Bamanakan) influence in Mali. In Mali, Bambara print and oral Bible resources can be used among them. In Cote d’Ivoire, the Wasulu refer to their language as Dioula (Jula) another of the Mande languages, and the vocabulary has variations from Bambara. Overall, the Wasulu have adopted some of the culture and language of the people they once lived among, while retaining their ethnic identity, thus forming a new people group with their own set of beliefs, traditions, and language. In Mali, the main Wasulu village is Yanfolila. Mandiana is the key Wasulu population center in Guinea.
What Are Their Lives Like?
As with many people groups, geopolitical borders do not define the area inhabited by the Wasulu people. The Wasulu region expands from the southwest corner of Mali to the northwest corner of Cote d’Ivoire and the northeast part of Guinea. Their villages are often remote, and some are inaccessible by car at the peak of the rainy season. Like many West Africans, they live a simple lifestyle depending on locally grown crops to feed themselves with little dependency on food items brought into their region. Corn is an important grain in their diet, particularly in Mali. Peanuts, mangoes, and citrus fruits are found in some areas. They also grow cotton primarily for export.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Though historical facts are at times obscure, the spiritual needs of the Wasulu people are clear and unchanged. Islam was introduced among the Wasulu in the late 1800s. Although there is strong evidence of Muslim practices in their villages, many of the Wasulu also continue to follow traditional African religious beliefs and practices. This mixture of practices is commonly referred to as folk Islam. The number of Wasulu Christians is a very small percentage of the population. Christians of other people groups live among the Wasulu in some regions, but often there are cultural barriers that inhibit a natural sharing of the gospel.
What Are Their Needs?
The Wasulu people need to put their trust in Jesus Christ so they can experience the abundant life he promises to all who follow him.
Pray for God to call out additional believers among the Wasulu to become leaders who will commit to discipleship and to being the torch bearers of the gospel to their people. May such ultimately lead to a great spiritual awakening and an indigenous church growth movement among the Wasulu.
Pray that believers who live among the Wasulu, but who are from other people groups, will see the responsibility and opportunity God has given them to live out and share the hope of Jesus Christ across cultural boundaries.
Pray that consistent discipleship will not be hindered among the Wasulu believers who exist across the spectrum of where they are in their sanctification and growth process. Pray that their spiritual growth and development will be consistent and strong.
Pray for Wasulu believers to be strong against the tide of persecution in an environment continually more hostile to Christians.
Pray for the teams of those working among the Wasulu, predominantly composed of Malian men and a few missionaries in two of the countries where the Wasulu reside. May God bless them continually with good spiritual, physical and emotional health, strength, and endurance as they each pursue the work he has called them to do. May the Lord provide the resources, creativity, and determination as they take the gospel of Jesus to the Wasulu.
The Hope” video by Mars Hill Media.
Wassulu Strategy Coordinator” [email protected]
Scripture Prayers for the Wassulu in Mali.